Awkward as ever, Junior Witter speaks out

Defining Junior Witter’s style has stumped greater minds than mine. Unorthodox is the ubiquitous descriptive and through generic, probably the most accurate. The former WBC Light-Welterweight champion is almost impossible to pigeon-hole, once the slippery, pitter-patter runner he blossomed into a destructive two fisted puncher but threw in enough disjointed performances to never fully engage the Yorkshire public or television audiences. Now as a former, rather than current World champion the one thing he is, without fear of contradiction, is avoidable.

Throughout the endless admonishments of his bitter rival Ricky Hatton Witter never delivered his quips and criticisms with the panache or devil of former gym mate Naseem Hamed or with the bombast of the ever loquacious David Haye. He couldn’t pull off the swagger of more junior compatriot Anthony Small and he lacked the fella down the pub patter of the aforementioned Hitman or the eccentricity of Eubank. It was always stilted, always awkward. As though his fighting style reflected his out of the ring personality.

I think that, as much as any political, financial or stylistic reason quelled his hopes of landing the big Hatton showdown. Maybe not, maybe Hatton simply didn’t want the fight. But I can’t help thinking a more box-office talker could have secured the bout when their careers were in closer parallel. Ultimately, he did peek out from the shadow of the hugely popular Mancunian to win the WBC belt vacated by Floyd Mayweather and in compelling performances versus Lovemore N’dou, the perennial gatekeeper and Vivian Harris demonstrated his enormous talent.

Tim Bradley, the unheralded but ambitious American, unseated him earlier this year and the lack of impetus and timing in Witter’s performance suggested his peak was already passed. Unable to couple punches together, he looked shorn of confidence, appetite and reflex. All prerequisites for success at the elite level and foundations for his style.

Now, a few months on and Witter has made his first public noises about his intent. Speaking to the Sheffield Star to announce his new relationship with a local sports retailer, Witter finally appears to have conceded defeat on his quest to land the big Hatton clash and instead is focused on redemption versus Bradley.

“I know how good I am. I let myself down and the people around me. So I have got to get back up there.” adding “Timothy Bradley is THE fight I want more than any other. Even more than Hatton!”

First Witter needs to await the outcome of purse bids for his proposed challenge to Gianluca Branco, the Italian who holds Witter’s old European belt. As a fan of the switch-hitting product of the Ingle gym in Sheffield, I will be eager to see whether the Bradley performance really was a blip as Junior insists it was or whether when consider alongside other patchy performances versus Colin Lynes and Andreas Kotelnik, represents a terminal decline in his powers.

Click on the Sheffield Star link to view a video of the interview with Junior.

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